We can travel again! Take one of these books on the train, plane or automobile. Read one on the beach, by the pool, or lying under a tree. Summer is the time to revel in pleasure. This summer especially.


Maggie Shipstead’s “Great Circle” is a book to sink your teeth into. Taking place over the course of a century, the plot follows a parallel course of two women’s fates.

My favorite author of the last ten years, Kathryn Heiny keeps me riveted with her insightful, funny, poignant sentences. I find myself slowing down to catch every word.  “Early Morning Riser” is one to be read and savored.

Esther Freud’s “I Couldn’t Love You More” tracks the stories of three generations of women in England, beginning in the 1960s. The author’s attention to detail brings the characters to life.

Another generational novel, “Pachinko,” by Min Jin Lee, follows a Korean family living in Japan. For those unfamiliar with the intricacies of Japanese culture, Lee is the perfect guide, writing her way into all walks of life in the country.

Deborah Levy’s “Hot Milk” is as steamy as it sounds, psychologically steamy that is. Set in Spain, the lead character, Sofia, grapples with love, childhood and growing up, while attempting to detach from her very needy mother.

“No One is Talking About This,” by Patricia Lockwood is a book for those who love language. This novel is meticulously written with extreme attention to detail.

Charles Yu’s “Interior Chinatown” is written is the format of a script, making this book extremely original. The lead character is an actor, which makes sense, but the power Yu wrings from his tight prose, is astonishing.

“Phase Six,” by Jim Shepard, reads fast and furious, cataloging the breakout of an epidemic in Greenland. It’s the perfect read for the moment.

Laurie Colwin’s “Lone Pilgrim” is a collection of stories that manage to be so specific that they become universal. The writer’s tone, teetering on sadness, but somehow always hopeful, emphasizes the little things, like clean sheets and warm bread, that get you through.

“Wayward,” by Dana Spiotta, takes on the mid-life crises with extremely fresh results. Samantha Raymond starts her spiral with the purchase of a ramshackle house, where she goes from there is completely unexpected, with absolutely nothing in common with “Under the Tuscan Sun.”

If the last year has you feeling like you missed out on life a bit, Matt Haig’s “Midnight Library” is the perfect antidote. With equal parts melancholy and humor, it’s an imaginative exploration of something we all can’t help wonder about at times: the lives we might’ve lived.

The stakes don’t come any higher than Andy Weir’s “Project Hail Mary”. The author of “The Martian” brings his trademark blend of affable humor and hard science to bear in a tense interstellar adventure for the fate of mankind. It’s a high-wire act that he pulls off masterfully.


Stephen King’s “Later” departs slightly from his usual genre with this pulpy, noir-type story. Slim and fast-paced, this story of a young boy with psychic abilities reads more like fiction, less like sci-fi.

Stephen King’s “The Institute” gives you everything you want for a big, fat, juicy summer read. Focused on a secret school for specially gifted children, King’s take on the incredible darkness of the U.S. feels all too real.


“The Empathy Diaries,” by Sherry Turkle, combines personal memoir with an in-depth look into empathy. The combination makes this book strikingly original.

Susan Burton’s “Empty” follows the writer’s journey with her eating disorder. Dispelling many myths along the way, Burton delves into her struggles with her yoyo diet of binging and starving.

True crime lovers will revel in Ellen McGarrahan’s “Two Truths and a Lie.” Set in Miami in the 60s and 70s, the author, a journalist and private investigator, takes it upon herself to find out the truth regarding a couple of police murders that resulted in a man being executed.

“The Book of Help,” by Megan Griswold, was recommended by a friend, who’s reading choices never let me down. A “memoir-in-remedies,” Griswold’s quest for health, inspiration and peace of mind, will resonate with anyone who seeks out personal growth.

Michelle Zauner, tells the story of her childhood, and her mother’s battle with cancer in “Crying in H Mart.” While this sounds sad, and it is sad, there are moments of joy to be had, as well as a love of food, especially Korean, that provide a nice balance to the pathos.
Erin French’s “Finding Freedom” chronicles the author’s journey to becoming a chef. Self-made and fearless, French makes it look like hard work, a good attitude,  and creativity can be enough to make a success in this life.

Alison Bechdel’s graphic memoir, “The Secret to Superhuman Strength,” delves into the author’s love of all things physical fitness. Funny and insightful, even for those, like me, with little interest in the finer details of exercise.

“Leave Only Footprints” follows Conor Knighton as he attempts to heal from heartbreak by visiting every national park in the country. Part travel-guide, part inner journey, this book will have you booking your next vacation before you’re finished.


Annalee Newitz’s “Four Lost Cities” investigates sites in Illinois, Italy, Cambodia and Turkey that  use to function as urban centers thousands of years ago. A blend of archeology, history, and urban planning, this fascinating account also considers why these areas fell into obscurity and what we might learn from past mistakes.

Elizabeth Becker’s “You Don’t Belong Here” follow three female war journalists. Focusing on the writers’ times during the Vietnam War, Becker puts a fresh twist on a period in American History that has already been covered exhaustively.


“Notes on Grief,” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, makes for a terrific read, and an even better gift for anyone battling sadness and/or depression. Rather than trying to cheer you up, Adichie will make you feel less alone, and maybe understood.

Lauren Hough’s “Leaving Isn’t the Hardest Thing” documents the writer’s painful and incredibly interesting life, from being gay in the military, to growing up in a cult. Told with stripped down sincerity and a good amount of self-awareness, Hough leaves you waiting impatiently for her next chapter.

Alice Waters, the godmother of modern American cuisine, keeps on teaching us how to live with “We Are What We Eat.” Tireless and upbeat, Waters’ take on sustainable food will inspire you to do better.